OTHERWORLDS test sessions

Pagan traditions meet immersive storytelling

09 | 06 | 23

Pagan traditions meet immersive storytelling
by Sophia Bulgakova


Two weeks ago we ran 3 days of the OTHERWORLDS project tests at De School in Amsterdam. The test days functioned as a feedback-round for the work in development. After an initial round of development and test presentation in 2022, Sophia Bulgakova and the team are developing the project towards its first public presentation.

OTHERWORLDS is a multidimensional participatory performance within virtual and physical realities created by Ukrainian media artist, immersive storyteller, and director Sophia Bulgakova. The project weaves together Ukrainian pagan traditions, folk tales, and other surrounding magical practices with contemporary discourse on visual culture and the usage of XR technology.

This unique multi-person experience originated in Sophia’s artistic research on Ukrainian traditions and pre-Christian pagan rituals. Her research and references undergo complete abstraction within the aesthetics and composition of the piece, keeping the notions and intentions of the ritualistic practices but creating new visual and experiential language to bring across tools for personal and communal transformation.

Background story
The project is searching for common grounds to revive and reimagine relations and connections to nature, technology, and each other by creating a new transformative, immersive ritual experience.
OTHERWORLDS reimagines all the elements using innovative sensorial tools such as abstract colour-based XR (Extended Realities) spaces, composed out of MR (Mixed Reality) and VR (Virtual Reality) environments, spacial interactive soundscapes within physical and virtual dimensions, collective choreographic elements performed by the participants themselves, concluding the experience of the audience inside the piece to be a sensory shift and a unique adventure which takes you out of everyday reality and allows room for change to occur within ourselves.

OTHERWORLDS’ experience follows a structure of change of the year ritual cycle from Ukrainian practices. It starts with embracing spring and continues through steps towards personal and communal transformations evoked by those customs. The sound is developed with the Ukrainian instruments from the Carpathian region, and the reiterated folk songs, as well as colours and symbols within the piece, are in direct relation to traditional practices, attire, and attributes from different regions in Ukraine.





OTHERWORLDS is supported by the Netherlands Film Fund, Creative Industries Fund NL and iMAL, Center for digital cultures & technology. We thank De School for the support and opportunity to run a three day test event.


Director & Artist: Sophia Bulgakova
Creative development: Leonardo Scarin & Harm van de Ven
Sound design: Mark IJzerman
Scenography: Maarten Keus
Headset mask design: Sasha Popruga
Cultural & artistic advise: German Popov, Maria Saridaki
Producer, project management & distributor: FIBER Foundation
Production management: John Gummels (FIBER)


Photography by Paulus van Dorsten